senior and boomer news and activities for grandparents and their grandkids

Flowers bring a smile to the heart of the Sandwich Generation granny nanny and grandkids

What happens to our beloved aging parents if we get sick, have a nervous breakdown, or experience some other physical impairment from caregiving stress burnout that keeps us from taking care of them? Some of us may have other family members ready to jump right in. The vast majority of those I talk to and read about do not. That's one of the reasons I continually encourage all of us in the Sandwich Generation to be sure we are "taking care of the caregiver" as well as the caree. 

One of my favorite ways of doing that is fun photography. I have a great and very easy to use Canon Powershot digital camera that I keep handy, along with the excellent camera in my iPhone, that is also so easy to use. As often as I can, when I spot sweet photos, I grab them. Many are of my grandkids, but I also enjoy snapping pictures of adorable critters like my granddogs as well as lovely flowers like these. 

My senior mom and grandkids love gardening activities

I love to use my digital camera that is easy to use to snap fun photos of grandkids flowers and more

As you can see from the photo taken by my easy to use digital camera - there are more lovely blooms to come

And I love to share them with you, to put a smile on your face and to encourage you as you go about your Sandwich Generation duties of caring for aging parents and babysitting grandchildren. I also enjoy sharing them on Sweet Shot Tuesday as well as Wordless Wednesday at 5 Minutes for Mom, both of which are interesting sites with great resources for all of us. Soooo, what's your favorite way of "caring for the caregiver?" We'd love to hear! 

I love my AT&T Apple iPhone - its great for the Sandwich Generation dealing with the varied issues of caring for elderly parent sHave you ever gotten excited about a great idea, implemented it, and then discovered that it didn't work. Or that, at the very least, it needed some major tweaking? Me too! In fact that exact thing happened to me this weekend! Remember the grand idea about photographing the medication bottles of your Sandwich Generation family with your iPhone to be prepared for doctor, urgent care, or hospital visits? 

The good news is, it can work. The bad news is, it needs a bit of tweaking. And I'm here to tell you just what to do, since my senior mom and I got to test drive it this weekend. She wasn't feeling well, and our doctor's office was closed, so off to urgent care we went. They asked about her medications, I whipped out my handy dandy iPhone, and they had NO wifi. My photos were locked away "in the cloud" and I couldn't get them. I finally realized they really DID have wifi, I just hadn't "accepted" it via my iPhone, so that's the first thing you always need to check on.                

The Sandwich Generation caregiver needs to be sure we click this circle to save vital documents onto the iPhoneThe Sandwich Generation using Evernote when caring for aging parents needs to take steps to be sure they can access their info at any timeThe second thing to do, before you ever need it, is go into any files in your Evernote app that you might ever need with no wifi – whether medication bottles, a document you want to read, or even your To Do List. In your iPhone app for Evernote, you should see a little grey circle in the top left corner. Open the file, click on that circle, and then it will save that page directly onto your cell phone. THAT WAY, when you are sitting in the urgent care office late at night, a bit bleary eyed because of too little sleep the night before due to storms, you will be able to easily access your photos or other important information.

And another thing I would suggest. In addition to the cool photos, I WOULD type up the list of medications and add them to your contact file for each person. Because your contacts are always easily available, with or without wifi. And for that matter, I would also suggest you print out that list (and/or print out the photos of the medications) and keep them with all your hard copy paperwork like power of attorney, living will, etc. that we in the Sandwich Generation always travel with. Then, if you find that you have wifi at the doctor's office but your battery has died, you will still be OK. Oyyyy, the joys of hi-tech tools for caregivers. When they work, they are GREAT. And I still highly recommend them. But when they don't work, you do feel a bit glum, to say the least. But now, all the glumness is on me (and only for a minute), and YOU will be well prepared! 🙂 

One of the most useful iPhone apps along with the easy to use iPhone digital camera can be great tools for the Sandwich Generation caregiverFacebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google Plus really are great resources, including for those of us in the Sandwich Generation! I got the greatest idea earlier this week via Jenn Fowler and her Pinterest site. It listed 10 pictures to keep in your iPhone, including photos of your medications!

How handy is that! And how could I NOT have thought of it before. Hmmmm, perhaps because of all the interruptions due to multigenerational caregiving? 🙂 Thanks to Jenn, though, I have the idea now AND expanded it a bit.

I took the photos of my senior mom's and my own medications – both prescription AND over the counter. Those photos would be quite handy "as is" and you can easily save them in your photo roll. But since I also LOVE Evernote (one of my most useful iphone apps that I've written about before and will be writing about again, soon), I added the photos to that app as well. 

Now, when I am at the doctor's office or hospital, and they ask me what medications she or I take, it'll be a breeze to whip out my iPhone, open the page in Evernote and write down each item, complete with the name, the amount, and, if necessary, the prescription number.

That's so handy for all caregivers and especially those of us in the Sandwich Generation who are often juggling medical and medication info for several family members from aging parents and ourselves on down to young grandchildren. This is a big help for routine doctor appointments and even better for emergencies when our brains don't always want to cooperate.

Make sure, when you do this, that each photo comes out clear, unshaky, and readable. Even if you or your loved one primarily take over-the-counter vitamins and supplements, the hospital will definitely want to know about those. And in a crisis, your mind can just go blank. So we definitely need those photos to be easy to read!

This is just as handy of an idea for long distance caregivers – especially if your aging parents also have an iPhone or other cell phone that they can use to take photos and send them via text. If they ever have to be admitted to the hospital, you can then communicate fully with the doctor about their medications via phone. (If they don't have the ability to send you the photos easily, it is still wise to have them write out a list of their medications and mail it to you to add to your iPhone. I would read it back to them when you get it, to try to avoid any errors due to misreading, typos, etc.)

And while you are doing all this, don't forget to find a pharmacy near your elderly parents (and yourself) that is open extra hours and/or delivers  and add that info to your iPhone contacts. Then you'll be prepared for emergencies, even if you are caring long distance or away on a trip. As I love to say, being prepared is one of the best tools around for all of us in the Sandwich Generation!

It is a celebration - Older Americans Month 2012- Especially appropriate for those of us in the Sandwich GenerationHappy Older Americans Month! According to the excellent senior citizen resource from Ohio, another finalist in the Best of the Web 2012, President Jimmy Carter named May "Older Americans Month." But even before that, President John F. Kennedy met with the National Council on Senior Citizens to bring issues affecting older adults to the forefront of policy discussions and every President since him has used May to raise awareness of elder issues.

Would you believe it! In 1963 only 17 million Americans were age 65 or older. Today, there are over 36 million Americans and senior citizens account for 12 percent of the total population!  Not only that, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that by 2050, 87 million Americans – or 21 percent of the population – will be age 65 or older. Of course, since that will include all of us in the baby boomer generation, and since we have such a fab reputation for shaking things up a bit, it should get more and more interesting to see what happens. I hope. 🙂 

I love the Facebook page for the Ohio Department of Aging. They have a great photo celebration going on. "Ohioans of all ages are encouraged to visit their page and post photos they have taken that embody the theme "never too old to ?'" And all of us can pop over to enjoy seeing what so many active aging seniors are busy doing, like 102 year old, female WWII veteran Bea Abrams Cohen, who is still actively involved in leaving such a grand legacy of giving, caring, and sharing. What a great example for all of us in AND out of the Sandwich Generation, along with our grandkids! WOW!